On Friday, Feb. 16, just as they do this time every year, hundreds of first years will hit the dance floor accompanied by blind dates. Some may end up spending the night together. But while the awkwardness — and the alcohol — seem likely to remain, one thing has already changed: The dance won’t be called “Freshman Screw.”
In an effort to encourage inclusivity and downplay the sexual undertones of the annual event, the Yale College Dean’s Office and the First-Year Class Council have changed the name of the dance to “First Year Formal.”
“The word ‘screw’ created the idea that if you went to the dance, there was this obligation that you had to hook up with someone by the end of the night,” said FCC President Grace Kang ’21, who also works as a staff reporter for the News.
Historically, first years have set up their suitemates on blind dates for the dance, sometimes “screwing” friends by pairing them with someone other than the date of their dreams.
By changing the name, Kang said, the FCC hopes to make it clear that all first years — whether they have a date or not — are welcome at the event. The initial suggestion of the name change came from the YCDO, Kang said, and members of the FCC worked to make it a reality.
Kang said she recognizes that the name change will not immediately alter the dance’s image as an opportunity for random hookups, but emphasized that “everything is a process” and that “the goal is to just start initiating these conversations.”
YCC Vice President Nicholas Gerard noted that the name change also brings the dance’s title in line with Yale’s decision to switch from the term “freshman” to the gender neutral alternative “first year.”
To further pursue gender inclusivity, the FCC is also in the process of changing other aspects of the dance — such as the Facebook page on which first years post photographs and comedic descriptions of friends for whom they are finding dates.
Last year’s iteration of the page was called the “Screw Date Shop.” Now it’s titled “FCC First Year Formal: Find People to Go With.”
“The name caused a lot of problems, because, first of all, the word ‘shop’ implies that people are going to sell each other off, which is not good,” Kang explained. “It also promotes the idea of having to go to screw with a date.”
Students interviewed expressed mixed opinions on the name change. Some first years said they appreciate the FCC’s efforts to promote inclusivity, while others described the name change as merely a symbolic measure.
“I am for the name change,” said Nikita Joshi ’21. “I don’t think that the concept of screwing your date should in any way be associated with the name of the event.”
Joseph Peck ’21 said he disagrees with the name change, describing it as an “excuse” that ignores “all the existing problems with sexual pressure at Yale.”
Kato Bakradze ’21 echoed Joshi’s thoughts. As someone in a long-distance relationship, she said, she prefers the new name.
“I feel like it allows me to go to the dance with a friend without wrong expectations from people around me,” Bakradze said.
Friday’s First Year Formal will take place at the Omni, while Commons undergoes renovations.
Aakshi Chaba | firstname.lastname@example.org